Skin Cancer: 5 Warning Symptoms To Look For
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it can be deadly if not caught early. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States each year. While skin cancer can affect anyone, certain risk factors can make you more likely to develop the disease. These include fair skin, a history of sun exposure, and a family history of skin cancer. You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by wearing sunscreen and avoiding sun exposure, but it’s also important to know the warning signs of skin cancer so that you can catch it early. Read on to know more about the five warning symptoms of skin cancer to look for.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It can occur on any part of the body but is most often found on the face, neck, chest, or back.
Skin cancer varies into three main types, which are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for about 80% of all skin cancers. It typically appears as a small, round, or oval-shaped growth that may be pink, red, white, or brown.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is accountable for about 20% of all skin cancers caused. It typically appears as a firm, red bump that may have a crusty surface.
- Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and accounts for about 4% of all skin cancers. It typically appears as a dark brown or black mole that may be larger than other moles on the body and has an irregular border.
If you notice any changes in your skin, it is important to see a dermatologist right away to get it checked out. Early detection may act as the key to the successful treatment of skin cancer.
How is Skin Cancer Caused?
Most skin cancers are caused by constant exposure to ultraviolet radiation (or UV rays) from the sun or other sources. UV radiation acts as the major cause of damage to the DNA in skin cells. This damage can lead to changes in the cells that make them grow uncontrollably and form cancerous tumours.
When it comes to skin cancer, there are three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are usually caused by long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun, while melanoma is more likely to be caused by sporadic sun exposure or exposure to other sources of UV radiation.
5 Warning Symptoms of Skin Cancer To Look For
Most people are aware that skin cancer is a serious health problem, but many do not know the warning symptoms to look for. Skin cancer can mainly be divided into two major distinguishable types: melanoma skin cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is the more dangerous type of skin cancer and can be fatal if not detected and treated early. Non-melanoma skin cancers are less serious and are usually easily treated.
The most important thing to remember is that any change in your skin, such as a new mole or a change in an existing mole, should be checked by a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you have any other symptoms of skin cancer, such as a sore that doesn’t heal, a rash that won’t go away, or changes in the texture of your skin.
Here are some specific warning signs of skin cancer to look out for:
- A mole that has changed in size, shape, or colour: If you find a mole anywhere on your body that has changed in size, shape, or colour, it may be a sign that you have skin cancer. It is recommended that you refer to a doctor as soon as possible.
- A mole that bleeds or oozes: If you find on your body a bleeding mole or one that oozes, understand that it may be a symptom of skin cancer. Therefore, we would recommend you visit a professional immediately.
- A sore that won’t heal: If you find on your body a sore that’s been there for a long time but still hasn’t healed, it may be a sign of skin cancer. In case you face this, book an appointment with a professional as soon as possible.
- A rash that won’t go away: If you find anywhere on your body a rash that just won’t go away, no matter how long it has been since it first appeared, know that it may be a sign that you’re prone to skin cancer. Consider this a warning sign and visit a specialist immediately.
- Changes in the texture of your skin: In case you find that the texture of your skin is changing, i.e., your skin is getting an uneven texture, then please know and understand that this may be a warning sign that you have skin cancer.
If you notice any of these changes in your skin, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Consequences of Skin Cancer
Several consequences can come as a result of skin cancer. The most serious and life-threatening consequence is death. However, there are many other potential consequences as well. These can include disfigurement, as skin cancer can result in the growth of tumours on the skin that can be unsightly. It can also lead to pain and suffering, as cancerous growths can be painful. Finally, it can lead to financial burdens, as a treatment for skin cancer can be expensive.
How is Skin Cancer Treated?
There are many different treatments for skin cancer, depending on the type and severity of the cancer. Some common treatments include:
- Surgery: This is often the first treatment option for skin cancer. Surgery is done to remove the entire tumour, along with a margin of healthy tissue around it. This can be done through a variety of methods, including traditional surgery, cryosurgery (freezing the tumour), Mohs surgery (a specialised type of surgery that removes layers of skin one at a time), and laser surgery.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is a treatment therapy that uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells in the skin. This treatment therapy can be used alone or in a combination with other treatments, such as surgery.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a treatment therapy that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given orally (in pill form) or topically (as a cream or ointment). Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as radiation therapy.
- Targeted therapy: This treatment targets specific genes or proteins that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. These drugs can help keep cancer cells from growing and spreading. Targeted therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy.
It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of skin cancer so that you can catch it early and get treatment. If you notice any changes in your skin, such as new growths, sores that won’t heal, or changes in moles, be sure to see a doctor right away. With early detection and treatment, skin cancer is often very treatable.